Miami New Times.This week, Luke comes to the defense of a superstar college quarterback in Tallahassee.
Whenever a celebrity athlete gets accused of sexually assaulting a woman, it doesn't take long for the media machine to declare him guilty. It's now happening to Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston, who stands accused of raping a Tampa Bay area woman on Dec. 7, 2012. The alleged victim, who attended FSU, claims she didn't know the identity of her attacker until a month later, when she identified him as Winston.
Her family alleges the Tallahassee Police Department tried to sweep the investigation away to protect Winston, a Heisman Trophy contender who could lead the Seminoles to a national championship. State prosecutors have delayed their decision on whether or not to file sexual assault charges against Winston, which will only hurts him. Despite being the best player in college football, he could lose the Heisman race because sports writers question if it is right to vote for Winston knowing a sexual assault case is hanging over him.
However, the truth is never black and white in sexual battery scandals involving star players. In 1996, the Dallas Cowboys' Michael Irvin and Erik Williams were accused by a woman named Nina Shahravan of video recording her while they held a gun to her head and raped her. She fabricated the entire story, recanted, pled guilty to perjury and filed a false police report. Eleven years later, another woman accused Irvin of sexually assaulting her at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. Prosecutors declined to file charges after reviewing the case. He sued her for defamation. They settled out of court in 2010.
In 2002, a woman claimed she was forced on stage and sexually assaulted during my performance at a South Carolina nightclub. However, two video tapes showed, and dozens of witnesses affirmed, that she participated willingly. She was charged with lying to investigators.
And don't forget Crystal Mangum who in 2006 falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her. The case fell apart when DNA evidence failed to tie Mangum to any of the 46 white players on the team. She eventually recanted her statement and said she was not sure she had been raped, although she insisted some sort of sexual assault had taken place.
These women have made it harder for real rape victims to prove they've been assaulted because people question their motives for coming forward with allegations of sexual assault.
In Winston's case, his DNA matched evidence collected in the apartment where the alleged rape took place. However, his attorney has asserted Winston had consensual sex with her. His lawyer also told the Tallahassee Democrat he's provided law enforcement with two affidavits from witnesses present that night that defend Winston.
Maybe investigators quickly figured out parts of her story weren't adding up. What if this girl is not being honest about knowing Winston? What if she did in fact know him and was already having consensual sex with him before the alleged incident took place? What if Winston hooked up with her again several times after?
What if there are photos of both of them together hanging out and having a good time? What if police investigators saw some pictures of her in very compromising positions? What if the cops told her if she pursued her complaint, these images would be splashed on every gossip site across America?
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What if her lawyer convinced her she's got to lay the groundwork for a civil lawsuit and for her to become famous? He probably told her it's the American way and that being famous for sleeping with athletes worked for Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.
Winston deserves the benefit of the doubt just as much as his accuser. It's only fair.